In a recent opinion, a New Jersey appeals court re-emphasized the importance of reducing divorce settlements to writing. That is, however, not enough since a poorly drafted agreement is of little use to the parties or courts after the fact.
In my experience, the single biggest flaw in a divorce agreement is lack of specificity. For example, simply stating that a parent shall have “liberal and reasonable” parenting time is an invitation to future litigation. Likewise, a failure to explain the assumptions upon which alimony and child support are based is without excuse. Defining valuation dates or “trigger” dates are important to include.
The cost of litigation resulting from a poorly drafted divorce settlement agreement will greatly exceed the expense of getting it right the first time. Every divorce settlement should be in unambiguous written form, which can include attachments and in some cases “for example” clauses to clarify complex terms. Every divorce litigant should insist on specificity, just as every divorce attorney should strive for the same.